Many people have confusion or misinformation about fluoride and what exactly it does for dental health. Between fluoridated water, fluoride toothpaste, and in-office treatments, there’s a lot to unpack! Luckily, we’re here to help you understand everything about this useful addition to your oral care routine.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring cavity fighting agent. It’s often present in natural bodies of water such as rivers and lakes, or is added to products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. Fluoride works by rebuilding decaying enamel, keeping teeth strong and resistant to cavities and erosion.
Is it safe?
Studies have been done for over 70 years in the United States on the effects of fluoride and fluoridated water on the teeth. Not only is it completely safe for both children and adults, studies have shown that fluoride can help reduce the risk of cavities and decay by at least 25%!
What is the benefit of fluoridated water?
When you drink water with fluoride in it, it becomes part of the saliva. Because saliva is in our mouths all the time, it’s essentially washing our teeth with a tiny bit of fluoride constantly, allowing for consistent protection. As of 2012, almost 75% of the United States population lives in a community where the public water (the stuff that comes out of your tap!) is fluoridated.
My community doesn’t have fluoridated water. What should I do?
There are many fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes on the market that can help strengthen your enamel little by little every day. Your dentist can also do fluoride treatments in-office, with either a fluoride foam or a varnish. Whichever fluoride you use, it’s easy, pain-free, and beneficial.
Much like anything else, moderation is key in terms of fluoride use. Too much and you’re at risk of fluorosis (a pain-free and functionally harmless discoloration of the enamel), or too little and you won’t get the benefits. Talk to your dentist to determine how much and which methods of fluoride are best for you.